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Cheese tourism: Gruyères, Switzerland

Cheese tourism: Gruyères, Switzerland

Cheese tourism: Gruyères, Switzerland

Some people may know Switzerland for its chocolate, watches, or tennis players, but I’ll always think of it as the home of heavenly cheese. And if you’re fortunate enough to visit, you’ll find a little slice of heaven in the town of Gruyères, home to the cheese that bears its name.  

Switzerland’s Gruyère cheese is both versatile and delicious, and I’m rarely without some in the fridge. I use it in salads, French onion soup, and quiche, and I also love eating it on its own. With a delicious nutty flavour, it’s neither too assertive nor too mild, and it melts perfectly. I’ve never been able to find a substitute for Swiss Gruyère that tastes so great and melts so easily.

Want to order some today? Try the Gruyère that’s been aged 8-12 months, or the Cave-Aged Gruyère for a more intense flavour.

Cave-aged Gruyere

Visiting Gruyères 

What to do

Gruyères castle was built in the 13th century; situated on a hill, it overlooks the entire region. The castle’s frescoes and artwork are lovely, as are the French gardens, and the view of the countryside is unforgettable. Take a picnic lunch and enjoy the vista. 

Park outside Gruyères (it’s a pedestrian-only town) and wander its cobbled streets to see beautiful medieval buildings at every turn. You can purchase the finest local jams, jellies, honeys, and of course cheese, at the market (Le Marché gruérien). Find out more about making cheese at La Maison du Gruyere.

If you’re there in the summer, be sure to see a cheesemaking demonstration in a converted chalet. 

On the other hand, if you’re visiting in spring or fall, time your visit around Des Alpes. The festival of the ascent and descent is held when the cows go up the mountain to spend the summer grazing, and again when they return for the winter. The festival attracts nearly everyone from the region, as well as many visitors. Farmers adorn their cows in floral wreaths, and parade them through town before taking them up to the mountains. 

Do your Swiss dreams include chocolate as much as cheese? Then you’ll want to visit nearby Broc’s Cailler Chocolate Factory, for a tour and samples. 

And if you have a day or two in Lausanne after visiting Gruyères, don’t miss its remarkable gothic cathedral, the terraced Lavaux vineyards, and a cruise on lovely Lake Geneva.

How to get there

Direct flights to Geneva are available from Montreal and Toronto, and indirect flights from other cities across Canada. From Geneva, it’s a relaxed one-hour drive to Lausanne, where you can spend the beginning and end of your trip, or even use it as a base to explore the area.

Where to stay

La Ferme du Bourgoz

If you want to stay near Gruyères, you won’t do better than La Ferme du Bourgoz (pictured above). Rooms are cozy and comfortable, and breakfast features cheese made by the family. It’s a five-minute walk to the village, and perfectly situated for hikes in all directions. Bonus: if you opt not to rent a car, the farm is a ten-minute walk from the train station. (The photo at the top of this post is also used courtesy of La Ferme du Bourgoz.)

La Combaz d'Amont is another good local choice that's just outside of town. Animal lovers will want to know that the owners also breed Bernese Mountain Dogs.

Looking for an idyllic place to relax in Lausanne? You won’t do better than Beau-Rivage Palace (see photo below). With stunning lake views, beautiful rooms, a relaxing spa and a generous breakfast, you’ll find it hard to tear yourself away!

 Beau-Rivage Palace 

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